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How well do we know Russia? Its geography and history is epic. In the span of a century, it moved from a Tsarist past to the world’s first socialist republic. Then came the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Today Russia is a country still defining itself, and a country the West is reluctant to trust.

In this series: the legacy of the revolution, Putin and politics, Russian dissidents, crime and punishment, culture and nationalism, the Olympics and winning no matter what, and a new Cold War?

At a special Sunday event, we hear first–hand stories of recent Russian immigrants to Canada. And at The Loft Cinema, the illustrated story of an adventurer’s journey across the Russian Arctic.

On November 10, we head to Roy Thompson Hall in the “NLC bus” where Valery Gergiev will conduct the St. Petersburg Mariinsky Orchestra, plus an exclusive intermission reception for NLC participants.

Five Thursday Evening Talks
7:30 - 9:30 pm
Columbus Community Centre, 232 Spencer Street E., Cobourg

Five Friday Morning Discussions
9:00-11:00 am
Port Hope Public Library, 31 Queen Street, Port Hope


Week 1

October 26 Talk
The Russian Revolution at 100

In 1917, revolution took Russia by storm. Lenin and the Bolsheviks, the ultimate victors, offered a vision of humanity’s future that captivated millions around the world. What followed was a series of spectacular successes and failures. How does that legacy live on?

Leonid Trofimov, Senior Lecturer, Russian History and Soviet-American relations, Bentley University, Massachusetts.

October 27 Discussion
A Brief Utopia: Russian Avant-garde painting before, during and after the 1917 revolution

It was one of those moments in art history when the ideals of art and politics fused in an atmosphere of hope and idealism, doomed to be brief and lost.

Andrew Gregg, artist and former Visual Art Teacher, Trinity College School, Port Hope.

Week 2

November 2 Talk
When sport defines a nation: Russian identity, the Olympics and the Doping Scandal

After the Revolution, Russia considered international sport bourgeois. That changed in 1952 when it entered the Olympics. The Cold War now had a new dimension; superior athletes signified a superior system. Today, the attitude persists, as Russia tries to win no matter what the rules.
Dick Pound, Chair, Olympic Broadcasting Services, former President of the World Anti-Doping Agency, past Vice-President of the IOC, Chancellor, McGill University.

November 3 Discussion
From Right to Left: Is There a place for opposition in Putin’s Russia?

A presidential election is scheduled for March 2018. Is there a force capable of challenging Vladimir Putin or is it a foregone conclusion?
Elena Maltseva, Assistant Professor, Political Science, University of Windsor.

Week 3

November 9 Talk
Where is Russia headed?

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, many hoped Russia would rapidly complete the transition to becoming a Western-style liberal democracy. It is now frequently said that under Vladimir Putin, Russia is turning into an authoritarian state. Paul Robinson argues the reality is more nuanced.

Paul Robinson, Professor, Public & International Affairs, University of Ottawa.


November 10 Discussion
Russia and the rest of the world: The return of the Cold War?

Are we witnessing the start of a new Cold War, or will current tensions soon blow over? A look at the political, military and ideological dimensions of the East-West conflict.

Paul Robinson, Professor, Public & International Affairs, University of Ottawa.


Week 4

November 16 Talk
Manufacturing the Russian soul: from Peter the Great to Vladimir Putin

To garner popularity, Vladimir Putin’s regime has revived nationalism. Kate Holland discusses nationalism’s nineteenth century roots, and the way literature and culture both foster and resist the resurgence.

Kate Holland, Associate Professor Russian Literature, University of Toronto.


November 17 Discussion
A ray of light in the Kingdom of Darkness

Censorship and propaganda. How do writers and directors stay true to their creative integrity in an era of traditional nationalism and Orthodox ideology?

Kate Holland, Associate Professor Russian Literature, University of Toronto.


Week 5

November 23 Talk
Crime and punishment in modern Russia

How has Russia’s justice system evolved since the collapse of the Soviet system? What are the roles of the police, lawyers and the courts today? Nikolai Kovalev also discusses the criminal subculture inside Russian prisons and their broader influence.

Nikolai Kovalev, Associate Professor, Department of Criminology, Wilfrid Laurier University.


November 24 Discussion
High profile criminal cases in Putin's Russia

Ten of the most famous criminal cases in recent years, and their consequence. A discussion of corruption, espionage, murder, and mass protests among others.

Nikolai Kovalev, Associate Professor, Department of Criminology, Wilfrid Laurier University


Special Events

Sunday, November 5
1:00 – 3:00 pm
St. Mark's Anglican Church Parish Hall, 51 King Street, Port Hope

An afternoon panel with Moderator Karin Wells, CBC Radio Documentary Producer, and three recent Russian immigrants to Canada.

In a country where the economy is fragile, and life spans are decreasing, how do Russians find joy, make ends meet and navigate the complex web of state institutions? Our guests bring perspectives from Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Siberia.

Friday, November 10
5:00 pm
Roy Thompson Hall, Toronto

Board the "NLC bus" to a concert by St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Orchestra under Valery Gergiev, PLUS an exclusive intermission reception.

**Advance purchase exclusively for NLC  ticket holders **
General sales October 1 onwards.



Sunday, November 19, 1:00 pm
The Loft Cinema, 201 Division Street, Cobourg

An illustrated talk by James Raffan, author, adventurer, photographer, Executive Director of The Canadian Canoe Museum, Peterborough, ON. Sponsored by Adventure Canada.



Kate Holland is Associate Professor of Russian Literature in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Toronto. Originally from the United Kingdom, she did her undergraduate degree in Modern and Medieval Languages at the University of Cambridge and her MPhil and PhD in Russian Literature at Yale University. As part of her research, she spent a lot of time in St. Petersburg and Moscow in the 1990s and 2000s. She worked as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Yale before joining the faculty at U of T in 2009. A scholar of nineteenth century Russian literature, she is the author of The Novel in the Age of Disintegration: Dostoevsky and the Problem of Genre in the 1870s (Northwestern University Press, 2013), as well as articles on Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Herzen, Saltykov-Schedrin, and other topics in Russian literature, culture and literary theory. She was the co-organizer of the SSHRC-funded international outreach project, Crime and Punishment at 150, and is currently working on an edited book project on Dostoevsky at 200. She is on the board of the North American Dostoevsky Society and co-runs their blog, The Bloggers Karamazov.

Kate Holland

Kate Holland

Dr. Nikolai Kovalev is an Associate Professor in the Department of Criminology at Wilfrid Laurier University, Brantford, Canada.  He is a barrister at law in Ontario, Canada. Dr. Kovalev's research is focused on comparative criminal justice, criminal law, criminal procedure and human rights. Dr. Kovalev has served as an expert on comparative criminal justice, law reform and international human rights for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the American Bar Association/ Rule of Law Initiative, Open Society Foundations and the U.S. Department of Justice. He completed assessments of many draft laws on various issues of criminal law and procedure for Georgia, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Russia and Tajikistan. Dr. Kovalev is a frequent speaker at conferences, round-tables, seminars and workshops on issues of human rights and criminal justice reforms in post-Communist states. Email:

Dr. Nikolai Kovalev

Dr. Nikolai Kovalev


Elena Maltseva holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Toronto (2012). Currently she is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Windsor in Windsor, Canada (2014-present). Prior to this position, Dr. Maltseva was an Assistant Professor of Political Science in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Nazarbayev University in Astana, Kazakhstan (2012-2014). Her current research focuses on three main themes: left-wing movements in post-Soviet states; social security reforms in post-Soviet states; and labour issues and regime stability in Russia and Central Asia. Dr. Maltseva has published several book chapters and articles in peer reviewed international journals. She has also been involved in a number of research projects funded by external agencies, including the UNDP Office in Kazakhstan, the Australian Walk Free Foundation and the ILO.

Elena Maltseva

Elena Maltseva


Dick Pound is a Canadian swimming champion, lawyer and prominent spokesman for ethics in sport. He was the first president of the World Anti-Doping Agency and vice-president of the International Olympic Committee.

Time magazine featured him as one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World". He is currently a chancellor of McGill University and chairman of the board of Olympic Broadcasting Services.

Dick Pound competed for Canada, winning the Canadian freestyle championship four times (1958, 1960, 1961, and 1962) and the Canadian butterfly championship in 1961. He competed for Canada at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, where he finished sixth in the 100 meter freestyle and was fourth with the 4 × 100 m relay team. He won one gold, two silver, and one bronze medals at the 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Perth, Australia and set a Commonwealth record in the 110 yd freestyle.

After he retired from competitive swimming, he served as secretary of the Canadian Olympic Committee in 1968 and became president of the organization from 1977 to 1982.

Dick Pound became known as an outspoken critic of corruption within the IOC, while at the same time supporting the leadership of IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch. His criticisms were given a wide airing after the scandals surrounding the Salt Lake City Olympics broke, and he was then appointed head of the inquiry into the corruption. He also campaigned vehemently for stronger drug testing.  His efforts have made him one of the most renowned and influential leaders in sports and in business.

On April 4, 2014, he was appointed chairman of the board of Olympic Broadcasting Services.

Dick Pound

Dick Pound


Paul Robinson is a professor in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa. He is the author of numerous books and articles about Russian and Soviet history. His most recent book ‘Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich: Supreme Commander of the Russian Army’ received the Society for Military History’s 2016 Book Award for Biography. He is currently writing a book on Russian conservatism.

Professor Robinson also pens the Irrussianality blog (

Paul Robinson

Paul Robinson


Leonid Trofimov was born and raised in Russia, a country, which has always been uncertain about its place in Europe and its relation to the West. He received his undergraduate degree in Siberia at Novosibirsk State University. After witnessing the collapse of the USSR, he moved to the West to explore what was truly a New World to us. Leonid got his MA and PhD in history from the University of Illinois at Chicago. His research interests focus on 20th century Russian history and his dissertation examined the role of the media in the onset of the Cold War. Later on Dr. Trofimov co-edited a collection of documents on World War I and the Russian Revolution. Another book due this fall will look more specifically on how the Russian revolution changed our world. Presently, he is a Senior Lecturer in Russian History at Bentley University in Massachusetts, and he also teaches European and Russian history at Queen’s.

Leonid Trofimov

Leonid Trofimov